Tag Archives: 3dprinting

Maker Movement Meets Healthcare

When I try to talk to peers and colleagues about the Maker Movement, one of the questions that keeps coming up over and over is what the heck this has to do with healthcare, and why am I bothering to spend my valuable time with it. So, this post has three examples illustrating the intersection of the Maker Movement with healthcare. Basically, for one of these it’s health literacy education & outreach via hands on geek project, and for the other two, there were real world problems that have expensive, time-consuming or often inaccessible solutions, for which people came up with their own solutions and alternatives. And the solutions are cool, they work, and are usually MUCH cheaper than the official solution you try to get insurance to pay for. Since not everyone has insurance, and not everyone can afford the very best possible care, I see this as a good thing. Make sure you read all the way to the end. This just gets cooler and cooler. There are more, too, this is a very small sampling, just items I stumbled over in the past couple days without even looking for them.


Have you met Sylvia? Sylvia is twelve years old, is a Maker (I’m guessing her folks probably are also), and has her own series in Make Magazine, with a really cool blog and videos. In this example, she shows people how to build a wearable technology pendant that will sense your heart beat and display the rhythm of your pulse with flashing lights in a necklace.

The Sylvia Show: Lilypad Heartbeat Pendant:

The full post at Make Magazine (Super Awesome Sylvia Builds a Pulse Sensor Pendant)

Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show: Make a Heartbeat Pendant:

I confess, at first I thought this seemed kind of staged, but there are enough close ups of her hands actually doing things like soldering, that I decided she really does know how to do the work, even if there might be assistance or advice from others for some parts.

Here’s where you can buy your own PulseSensor (which Sylvia connects to an Arduino for control):


Here Denver Dias, an undergraduate student in Mumbai India, was working to try to create a walking aid for the blind. Yes, we have walking canes and seeing eye dogs, but this extremely early prototype uses tech to create 3d maps of the surrounding area while walking. The maps are communicated to the user by a combination of tones and vibrations. The tech includes LEDs, sonar, ultrasound, and more.

His blogpost:
Walking aid for the blind – undergrad project…

Found via Dangerous Prototypes:


Did you look at this and think it was some fancy looking glove a kid was wearing for a costume? Well, it isn’t. This is a design for kids who, for whatever reason, don’t have fingers. This open-source, freely shared pattern makes it possible for people to create their own prosthetic ‘hand’ with a 3d printer. You can resize it and tweak it. It’s called Robohand. Watch the video if you want to see some awfully happy kids. They are hoping it will also be useful for veterans.

Complete set of mechanical anatomically driven fingershttp://www.thingiverse.com/thing:44150

Updated Robohand design:

MakerBot and Robohand — 3D Printing Mechanical Hands

Via BoingBoing, NPR, and more.

3dPrinter: Donated Makerbot 3D printers accelerate distribution of Robohand mechanical hands

BoingBoing: Sponsor shout-out: Makerbot and the Robohand

MakerBot: Mechanical Hands From A MakerBot: The Magic Of Robohandhttp://www.makerbot.com/blog/2013/05/07/robohand/

NPR: 3-D Printer Brings Dexterity To Children With No Fingers

Now, if anyone still thinks that the Maker Movement lacks relevance to healthcare, I’ll go find more, but first stop and think about Jack Andraka, whose recent discovery of innovative technology to diagnose many life-threatening cancers earlier and more cheaply, seem very much in keeping with the philosophy of the Maker Movement.

First posted at CoolToysU:

At the Movies: June Lagniappe

Lagniappe is a Cajun word used to describe the yummy little leftover bits. So the little bits today cover Crowdfunding, Ebooks, Data-Sharing, 3D printing, Password Tattoos, Wearable Technology, Technology ethics, lah dee dah.


Tattoos and Pills Could Negate Need for Passwords

The password you can never forget. And it is a tad harder to steal than most of what we have now.


The Future of Wearable Technology | Off Book | PBS

It’s a good thing. Highlights from MIT, Parsons, G51Studio, and Adafruit.


Is Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) Ethical? | Idea Channel | PBS

If I say anything, I’ll give away the most important idea. So, no spoilers, but watch it.


Dreambox: The 3D Printing Vending Machine

Shade of the Star Trek Replicator, eh? Don’t tell me you haven’t always secretly wanted one.

Will 3D Printing Change the World? | Off Book | PBS

Topic being debated wildly in the media now, with absolutely no consensus at this time.


Data Sharing and Management Snafu in 3 Short Acts

The much loved and truly funny/sad story of a data sharing request to a research, gone seriously wrong, but in very typical ways.


Jörgits and The End of Winter Trailer

Jörgits is interesting not just because of the clever animated video, but also because it is getting a lot of attention as an innovative app and new e-book format (Discovery Ed, Fox is Black, Paperblog,), because it is crowdfunded, much of the original art work is collected into a Pinterest board, and snippets of the audio tracks are made available open and transparently in SoundCloud.

ECigs: ETech Meets Public Health Again (Part One)

One of my Twitter healthcare friends tweeted this morning, with some evident concern, about the issue of 3D printed guns.

Regular readers of this blog have already heard about this, and the counter argument that it isn’t the 3D printed guns that are the problem, but the ammo, and OOPS, we already have 3D printed ammunition, also.

So, yes, this is an issue with an emerging technology, and it is a public health issue. When I blogged about it before, I didn’t make that overt and explicit. I assumed people would figure that out on their own. But now I am thinking perhaps I should make more overt some of the issues I’m tracking which have potential health impacts.

This brings me to the topic of electronic cigarettes, a relatively recent technological approach to changing how people smoke for recreational purposes. This weekend I collected over 40 (FORTY!!) hashtags from the conversation space around electronic cigarettes. That should be another post, later. For those new to the idea, eCigs have become a big deal awfully quickly. And it is extremely complicated. I’m just going to pull out a very few tweets illustrating some of the potential health issues in the conversation.

The thought here is that electronic cigarettes can be and ARE BEING used as smoking cessation devices, kind of like the nicotine patch, but more like actually smoking.

In fact, the “healthiness” of electronic cigarettes is one of the leading marketing justifications.

But there are some who question the safety and “healthiness” of the electronic cigarettes. Like, um, the American Cancer Society? And the American Lung Association. And the FDA.

American Cancer Society: Electronic Cigarettes – Boon, Bane, Blessing, or Boondoggle? (2011) http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/expertvoices/post/2011/05/03/electronic-cigarettes-e28093-boon-bane-blessing-or-boondoggle.aspx

American Cancer Society: Restrict the Sale of Electronic Cigarettes: http://www.cancer.org/myacs/eastern/areahighlights/cancernynj-news-ny-ecig-health-vote

American Cancer Society: What about electronic cigarettes? Aren’t they safe? (2013) http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/questionsaboutsmokingtobaccoandhealth/questions-about-smoking-tobacco-and-health-e-cigarettes

Reactions against official organizations with concerns about e-cigs are vigorous. These are a couple of the lighter and tamer responses.

American Lung Association: E-cigarettes: Another Option to Help You Quit Smoking? http://www.lung.org/associations/states/florida/educational-programs/e-cigarettes.html

American Lung Association: Some say vaping e-cigarettes is worse than smoking the real thing: http://www.lung.org/associations/states/florida/news/top-story-in-the-news/some-say-vaping-e-cigarettes.html

FDA: Electronic Cigarettes (e-Cigarettes) http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm172906.htm

FDA: E-Cigarettes: Questions and Answers: http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm225210.htm

FDA: For Consumers: Health Fraud: Electronic Cigarettes: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ProtectYourself/HealthFraud/ucm267560.htm

Whoa. Despite the FDA information above, and despite demands that the FDA involve itself in the topic (and demands for the reverse), there is no move at this time to manage the claims and safety of e-cigarettes at the federal level. The FDA is, however, collecting information and opinions on whether or not they should be involved.

While the FDA considers, states are actively involved.

The link in the tweet leads to information asking the broader e-cig community to sign a petition to block the North Carolina House Bill 864 / Senate Bill 530, Prohibit E-Cigarette Sales to Minors.

e-Cigarette Forum

Why is the legislature so concerned about sales to minors? I’m not sure, but it might have something to do with the eCig liquids being flavored, many of them tasting like candy.

If you look at the petition page, you immediately notice alerts highlighting other states and local legislatures with similar initiatives regarding e-cigs.

CASAA Calls to Action (e-Cigs)

CASAA is a lobbying and advocacy organization for the e-cig community, and they collect the wide array of state and local initiatives to regulate e-cigarettes in the United States. Just in the past month, CASAA alerts mentioned Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Louisiana, New York City, Maine, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington.

“Perhaps most surprising is that when the topic of electronic cigarettes was finally pushed enough that the panel had to respond more adequately, it seemed clear they had no idea what electronic cigarettes were. When presenters offered to let the panel hold, pass around, and inspect their e-cigs, it was clear they had either never seen one or had only seen the ones that very closely resemble conventional cigarettes. And yet, the board was ready to discuss and vote on bills that would affect their control within the city.”
Creating Unintended Consequences: http://www.ecigadvanced.com/blog/creating-unintended-consequences/

Not just the USA, either. Other countries are even more aggressively opposed to e-cigarettes, and the e-cig community is equally passionate in their stance that the research evidence does not support the negative claims.

Up in a puff of smoke? EU plan threatens e-cigarettes: Anti-smoking groups angry at new directive which could price devices out of market

Safer Alternative to Cigarettes to Be Banned by EU: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/janice-atkinson/safer-alternative-to-cigarettes-banned-by-eu_b_2827043.html

“I used to smoke cigarettes, until I switched to E cigs. For me they are a healthier way to deliver nicotine They come in all sorts of shape and sizes and do not necessarily look like a real cigarette. E Cigs can prevent 750,000 premature death per year. Now the EU want to regulate them out of existence This will force me and others back to conventional cigarettes The EU’s policy is to “quit or die”. I do not not want to do either.”

Smoke without fire: The Story of the electronic cigarette: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/1931-smoke-without-fire

There are concerns about the safety, as well as oversight of the ingredients and consistent production criteria and quality control (as mentioned earlier in the FDA links).

Maryland Injury Lawyers: Are Electronic Cigarettes Dangerous Products? http://www.maryland-injury-lawyer.com/2012/02/are-electronic-cigarettes-dang.html

But, like I said before, it’s complicated. Last month an article was published in JMIR about health effects reported in those online forums for “vaping”.

“A total of 405 different symptoms due to e-cigarette use were reported from three forums. Of these, 78 were positive, 326 were negative, and one was neutral.”
Hua My, Alfi M, Talbot P. Health-Related Effects Reported by Electronic Cigarette Users in Online Forums. J Med Internet Res 2013;15(4):e59 http://www.jmir.org/2013/4/e59/ PMID: 23567935

Check out the research yourself. What do you think?

Pubmed: “electronic cigarettes” OR “electronic cigarette” OR “e-cigarette” OR “e-cigarettes” OR “ecig” OR “e-cig” OR “e-cigs” OR “e-cigs”

End of Part One. Part Two digs deeper into some of the social and cultural aspects of vaping, which also have potential health impacts.